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This paper reports on a project undertaken at The Open University which set out to explore academics’ notion and practice of authentic assessment through the exploration of the following research objectives:
1. To understand what is meant by authentic assessment in the literature by examining a set of examples of authentic assessments.
2. To construct a questionnaire which could be used by Open University academics to explore their understanding of authentic assessment.
3. To investigate through means of a questionnaire the types of assessment academics were currently undertaking and whether they fitted into a broad definition of authentic assessment.
The findings from the electronic survey suggest that Open University academics are on the way to designing meaningful assessments for their students. Although many of the courses were employing assessment tasks that could be considered as ‘authentic’, only 25% of the academics had heard of the terms ‘authentic learning’ and ‘authentic assessment’, which is a low response compared with ‘learning design’. However, there has been a well publicised Learning Design initiative taking place across the University.